4-6 year old gasoline in tank

Okay. I am only now getting my licence (a couple years longer than I wanted to wait), but sadly the car I have to use has been sitting in the same spot for anywhere from 4-6 years with only one start and no movement. We have jumped it, checked the spark plugs and poured some new gasoline into it, but it still wont start. I am curious. Is the old gas in the tank part of our problem? And if so, what do you do to remove it?

Year, make, model, mileage of the vehicle in question please…

But yes, gasoline degrades over time and can cause serious problems. With most cars, you can siphon the gasoline out with a 1/4 inch clear vinyl hose. If it’s a dark orange color and smells like old paint thinner, that’s bad news.

Yes, the old gasoline is likely to be the problem. Gasoline turns to varnish over time, and it doesn’t take 4 years. One year is enough to make gasoline useless.

Drain all of the old gas, any way you can. Then refill with new gas. Odds are the fuel system is contaminated with the old gas, and may not work. Sad, but true.

What vehicle are you working with?

A 1993 Subaru Impreza.

Edit: Had to double check the mileage. It has 250,000 miles on it roughly.

It sat in the same place for 4 years, where upon it started just fine and was driven about 10 feet to its current location, and has sat for another 2 years after that.

Some starting fluid should give it a kick, if starting fluid gives a short run replaceing the gas could be the fix, part 1 at least.

Start by siphoning as much old gas as you can out of the tank. Change out the fuel filter, and fill the tank with fresh gas. It might take some amount of repeatedly cranking and using starting fluid to get the engine firing; this is done to draw the goop out of your fuel lines and get the new fuel in. Eventually it’ll run on its own.

With most cars, you can siphon the gasoline out with a 1/4 inch clear vinyl hose.

I’ll bet you haven’t tried that for a few decades. Every car I have owned since the 1970s-1980 gas crises – about seven of them – has had baffles in the fuel feed that make siphoning gas for the lawnmower next to impossible. Siphoning is worth trying if one already has some suitable hose and a hand pump (you really don’t want to suck gasoline through hoses with your mouth). But I’ll be surprised if it works.

Just how old is this vehicle? If it is from the 1970s or 1980s with a carburetor or throttle body fuel injection and a mechanical fuel pump, there is a fighting chance that starter fluid will get it going (in the bad old days, we used to just pour a little gasoline into the carb, and hit the starter but that isn’t the safest practice in the world). If the starter fluid runs the engine for a few seconds, but it won’t stay running, remove the air cleaner, shoot in some carburetor cleaner, let the car sit for a while, and try again. That works sometimes.

If it is a more modern car with an in-tank fuel pump and fuel injection, I’m not sure what to do. You can try squirting some starter fluid into the air intake. Maybe it will take off.

And, of course, the problem may not be fuel. Some electrical or mechanical component may have aged and given up when you hit the starter. If starter fluid won’t make it fire and run after a fashion for a few seconds, you might start to suspect that the problem isn’t just fuel.